What to do with all this Squash? Part III

2 Nov

A Winter Squash Series: Squash-y Memories from Living in China

by Francine

The tiny ambercup squash looks like a baby pumpkin; it also looks a lot like the pumpkin I encountered when I was living in Dalian, China. I picked one up from the vegetable market near my apartment building in Fall 2009. I was feeling festive so I drew a little smile on it. But when I decided to cook it, I realized this little guy was no pumpkin.A photo of the pumpkin I got in Dalian

The skin was nearly impossible for me to cut through. I vividly remember kneeling on my kitchen floor, bracing a cutting board with my knee and trying to keep a round pumpkin from rolling away while wielding a large knife. (It probably wasn’t the safest way to cut something, thankfully the knife was somewhat dull.) The thing that’s important is that I managed to chop that little pumpkin into chunks. I tried peeling it too, but I gave up and decided to boil it, afterwards the skin easily peeled off. I may have I made pumpkin soup, but can’t really remember.

After that experience, I learned the word for the winter squash I had prepared—nan gua (南瓜) which translated means pumpkin. After clicking through multiple Wikipedia pages and ‘winter squash varieties’ Google searches, the best I can ascertain is that nan gua is more exactly a Red Kuri Squash or maybe a Golden Nugget Squash aka Oriental Pumpkin.

While I was in China, I didn’t end up preparing another nan gua, probably because my arms were still sore.  I did get to taste it again, when my Chinese friend ordered a pumpkin and meat dish for lunch.  It was a tasty, saucy, stir fried dish with bright orange chunks in it…a lovely thing to try on a chilly January afternoon.A photo of the cutting process

When I was trying to decide what to do with  the Ambercup squash I got from the farmers’ market, I thought, hmm… this looks a lot like that nan gua I hacked away at on my kitchen floor. As I searched for what to do with Ambercup squash, I also Google image searched 南瓜 since they could be squash twins. I came across a photo of nan gua and beef along with an accompanying recipe in Chinese.

I plugged the recipe into Google translate and then did a bit of my own translating because after reading “until cooked pumpkin, sung out,” I was pretty sure I wasn’t supposed to sing show tunes to get my cooked pumpkin out of the pan. The translation of the author’s description of nan gua is equally humorous, “a pumpkin is simply iron, I use chopped bones, sword, and get tired to grimace in pain be considered open.” I definitely grimaced in pain to get that nan gua open. Although I didn’t use chopped bones, I suppose I could’ve chopped off my knee bone.A photo of Nan Gua

Funny translations aside, I did make Nan Gua Beef with Ambercup squash. It was enjoyed by my family atop steamed rice. Next time, I’ll share the recipe and some tips I learned while preparing Ambercup squash—a little squash with a very thick skin, you could even say it’s ‘simply iron’.


One Response to “What to do with all this Squash? Part III”


  1. What to do with all this squash? part IV | Real Local Good - a mother and a daughter learn about real food, local food and cooking food - March 15, 2014

    […] Stay tuned to find out what I did with each squash, as well as some fun facts.Last week, I shared my experience of preparing a thick skinned, pumpkin-like squash while I was living in China. Today I’ll share […]

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